May 2012 Script
A Perfectly Normal Boy - Just a Little Kid Who Likes Showtunes (2008)
What could be better than that, if you're just a little kid who likes showtunes? That's the name of the song and kind of the overall theme for Queer Music Heritage this month. This is JD Doyle and I've not done a show on musicals in a while, so this is overdue. I'm going to jump around this subject, unveiling some with some deep history, and many you may have just missed. What you won't hear are the big hits, like "La Cage Aux Folles," and "Priscilla Queen of the Dessert." One is too obvious and the other lacks original material. So, let's get to it. I started with a song from the 2008 musical "A Perfectly Normal Boy," and I'm going directly to one of the earliest appearances of gay themes in a musical.
The show "Let My People Come" did not bill itself as a gay musical. It billed itself as a sexual musical, and a review when it opened in 1974 said "it broke all barriers - simulated sex, orgies, lesbianism, homosexuality, simulated oral sex, bisexuality, all celebrated, all hilariously carefree." Of course I only care about the gay songs and I'm giving you those from the show, starting with "I'm Gay."
My People Come - I'm Gay (1974)
The song "I'm Gay," sung in the musical "Let My People Come," was one of the earliest openly gay songs to be heard in a show in New York, and it got heard a lot as the show was a huge Off-Broadway hit, with over 1100 performances. It was sung by Marty Duffy and Joe Jones. And the middle song in that set was sung by openly gay actor Larry Paulette. It was called "Take Me Home With You." The last song was the lesbian one that I can play on public radio, "And She Loved Me," and I finished it off with just a dash of the show's finale.
As I said, the show was a hit, and in 1982 it even spawned another cast recording, this time in Quebec, and in French, and called "Laissez Venir le Monde." So I'm sharing with you that show's version of "I'm Gay," "Je Suis Gai."
Venir Le Monde - Je Suis Gai (1982)
After the French version of "I'm Gay" I went to an Italian musical from 1979 called "Oh, Gay." It ran for almost six months in a theatre in Rome, and that song was called "Travestiti," which literally translated into English is "disguised," but I think the slang translation has more to deal with transvestites.
The next one is not really a musical, but it was a special musical event, captured in London in 1976 as a cast recording. It was called "Side by Side by Sondheim," and the show wasn't gay except for one twist. David Kernan did a delightful version of one of the songs from "Follies," usually sung by a woman. Here is "Could I Leave You."
by Side By Sondheim - Could I Leave You? (1976)
You have to really know your Sondheim to catch all the references in that song, called "Sondheim." It comes from a New York musical from 1974, called "In Gay Company," though it wasn't recorded until a production was done in Los Angeles in 1984. The songs were done in revue style, with no connecting plot, and Beverly Bremers was in the L.A. cast, and got to sing "Sondheim."
Here's a musical with some real history behind it. It's called "Gulp!" and was written by gay theatre legend John Glines. It was the first production at the Glines Theatre to have an extended run, with sell-out crowds. And, I think this is cooler, the ad for the show was accepted by the New York Times, marking the first time that newspaper permitted the word "gay" in their theatre listings. The cast album was never released, and I'm still pinching myself that a few years back John Glines contacted me himself, as I mentioned the show on my website, and then he mailed me a CDR of the 1976 production, all the way from where he was living, in Thailand. A very brief description was that it takes place on Gay Pride Day, at Coney Island, and one of the characters has a crush on the lifeguard, who is denying, mostly to himself, that he's gay. So, from "Gulp!" is "Here We Are" and "Hand Out the Leaflets."
Gulp! - Here We Are / Hand Out the Leaflets (1976)
In 1981 there was an obscure musical called "Sparkles." Its subtitle was "The Ultimate Fairy Tale," and it had a couple of numbers with a leather & bondage theme. Here are "Steppin' Out With the Boys," and "Take Back Your Whips."
- Steppin' Out With the Boys (1981)
After the songs from "Sparkle" I played "Finale" from another obscure musical called, are you ready, "Sit On It & Swivel," which contained your stock stereotypical characters: a drag queen, leatherman, closeted businessman, preppy gay guy and faghag. It's from 1985 and for a time they had a website where you could download the entire show for free, including CD liner art so you could make your own disc, which of course is what I did. That page is gone but you can still find the music on Soundcloud. And after that I played the one gay song from a show called "Cleavage." It ran for one performance on Broadway, in 1981, and somehow its soundtrack was recorded and released. The song was called "Boys Will Be Girls."
And boys just kept being girls. In 1997 there was a show called "Pageant," which got a lot of productions around the world. I saw a very fun one in Houston, so I can visualize how over the top this musical can be. The Australian show was the only one to get a recording, and it was only on the market briefly before it was withdrawn for legal reasons. So this is rare, very rare. Here's the introduction number to "Pageant."
Pageant - Introduction / Natural Born Females (1997)
Of course, all of these "girls" got their own over-the-top number, packed with full-blown campy stereotypes, and all of the roles, if you couldn't tell, were played by men in drag. That's intentionally ironic because that number was called "Natural Born Females." It's also interesting given the recent news about transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova, who was kicked out, and then reinstated, in the Miss Universe Canada competition.
This is JD Doyle and the next song closes this segment, but you can hear more on Part 2, found on my site queermusicheritage.com. I hope you check that out.
Okay, those lesbians have been keeping pretty quiet through all of this, but in a musical from 2000 they got wild. Well, the name of the show was "The Wild Party," and it did pretty well Off-Broadway and garnered two Drama Desk nominations. Idina Menzel, after "Rent" and before "Wicked," won the award that year, but the other nomination went to the singer of the song I picked, Alix Korey. The show was set in decadent 1929, and I think its crowning glory was one called "Old Fashioned Love Song."
The Wild Party - Old Fashioned Love Song (2000)
Bed Boys & Beyond - Gay Today (2000)
I love that musical. It came out in 2000, and was called "Bed Boys & Beyond." This is JD Doyle for Part 2 of Queer Music Heritage, and this month I'm digging into my gay musicals collection, which is extensive. I'm bringing you old and new songs, and many you may have missed. I saw this delightful musical at its original venue, the Duplex, in New York City and was completely charmed by the music and lyrics. Written by Jeff Dobbins and Alfredo Alvarez, the show explores much of the gay dynamic of looking for Mr. Right, even in department stores, and learning to be yourself. I can't resist sharing two more of its songs, "Mr. Right," and its title track, "Bed Boys & Beyond."
Boys & Beyond - Mr. Right (2000)
Of course that song, "The Evening After," was a parody of "The Morning After," a big hit from the movie "Poseidon Adventure." It was from a Toronto show called "Cruisin'," which set all their campy fun on a cruise ship. And after that, a quickie called "Marry Me," from the 2011 musical by that name.
I love, love this next show. It's called "Bare, the Musical," and think it's the best gay musical in years. I got to feature it on my February 2008 show, where I interviewed one of the writers, Damon Intrabartola, and I'm pulling a quote by him about the show, and am then playing my favorite song from it, "You & I."
Intrabartola comment (2008)
By the way the singers on that were James Snyder and Matt Doyle, and both have been quite active on Broadway and television. Doyle released an excellent CD last year and his latest movie, a gay one called "Private Romeo," is out on DVD in June.
This next show is also about teenagers, and I almost missed it. It's called "Glory Days," and was released in 2009. It's a story musical and of course it's difficult to pull a couple songs and have it make sense, but I much enjoyed the entire soundtrack. To set the scene, four best friends are meeting one year after graduation, on their high school football field. One of them comes out to the others, who do not deal with it so well. The songs I picked are "My Three Best Friends," "Open Road," and "The Thing About Andy."
Days - My Three Best Friends (2009)
That show closed after one performance on Broadway, a pity, as I think it deserved much more attention. In the next show the hero is slightly older, and is in college and just exploring his sexuality, in this case, in a public restroom.
The Ballad of Little Mikey - Tap (1994)
He covered lots of ground there, and that was just the third song in the show. He ends up way out of the closet, and the show was called "The Ballad of Little Mikey, The Birth of an Activist." Its recording was released in 1994, and it was written by Mark Savage, with Mark W. Smith in the title role.
You may have noticed there just are not too many lesbian musicals, but this is one. It was written and produced by Faith Soloway, and was called "Miss Folk America." It's a parody of beauty contests, and it even featured some artists I know, Catie Curtis and Mary Gauthier, who were cast as Miss Cambridge and Miss Dorchester, but after the intro, I'm going into a song by Meghan Toohey, Miss Jamaica Plain.
Folk America - Intro / Queer in Revere (2000)
After "Miss Folk America" was "Back in the Gay Old Days," from the 2005 musical "Trolls," and after that was Fred Barton. His early success was in the original version of the on-going hit show "Forbidden Broadway," and from that first production, in 1984, was him playing piano and then singing one called "Audition Sequence."
And, no, not all the actors in the "Forbidden Broadway" series were gay, but of course some were. In the 1997 show, "Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back," Bryan Batt, known for the TV show "Mad Men" gives us "Too Gay for You, Too Het'ro for Me."
Broadway Strikes Back - Too Gay for You, Too Het'ro for Me (1997)
Ah, "The Big Gay Musical," 2009's over-the-top romp, with Daniel Robinson singing "I Want to Be a Slut," and only Marty Thomas could have taken "God Loves Gays" to those "Dreamgirls" heights. I understand from one of the show's writers, Rick Crom, that a sequel is in the works. I have read it will be called "The Bigger Gayer Musical."
This is JD Doyle, and gosh, time goes so fast on these shows, there's much more I want to play, so that will be in Part 3. But closing this segment is a fun show from last fall called "Little House on the Ferry," and that's the ferry going to Fire Island. Not only is the music fun, but this is the first time you can buy a soundtrack on a flash drive. Yes, you can buy the drive, with the show's name on it, and containing all the songs, plus the play bill, photos and more. Pretty cool. The show closer is "We're on Fire Island."
Little House on the Ferry - We're on Fire Island (2011)
Freeway Dreams - Bette Davis Chorus (1992)
I bet that got your attention. "The Bette Davis Chorus," from the 1992 show "Freeway Dreams." That wasn't a gay-themed musical but sure exuded gayness, especially on that song. Written by Wayne Moore, the cast included Lee Lucas and Michael Greer. And this is JD Doyle with Part 3 of my QMH show this month on musicals.
This next one is not from a musical, but its writer, Billy Barnes, was prolific in writing for musicals and television, and was famous for his revues. I found an LP from 1976 called "Billy Barnes with Marvin Laird, Live at Studio One," and from it is his song "Ambivalent."
Billy Barnes - Ambivalent (1976)
Note: Septembner 2012, sadly Billy Barnes passed away on 9/25/12,
at age 85.. .
The Gay Nineties Musical - The Gay Nineties (1995)
And that was also written and sung by Billy Barnes, nineteen years later, and is from the 1995 production of "The Gay Nineties." The title song can also be found on a wonderful CD collection called "Family Jewels: Gems of the Rainbow Stage," which anyone listening to this show would want. That CD also has this next song, "Who Have You Loved Today," from the 1977 show "Joseph McCarthy Is Alive and Living in Dade County." The title refers to the Anita Bryant Bible bigotry band wagon that was running rancid in those days. It's a really nice ballad, sung by Gerrard Wagner.
McCarthy Is Alive and Living in Dade County - Who Have You Loved Today?
Those two were from the 1995 Australian cast album of "Only Heaven Knows," written by Alex Harding, with those tracks sung by David Campbell.
Up next is a show so new the music is still in demo stages. Rick Knight, who brought us "The Rainbow Room," in 1998, is back with one called "A Cruise Line," which sounds like it's shaping up quite well. It's him singing on this one, and he's told me it was inspired by the way he met his first lover. It's called "And Then You Smiled."
A Cruise Line - And Then You Smiled (2012)
I'm going back for a couple oldies now, first to 1974 for one of the earliest gay musicals. The long title was "Lovers: The Musical That Proves It's No Longer Sad To Be Gay." That year Doric Wilson, and several others, formed T.O.S.O.S., which stood for The Other Side of Silence. This was the first professional theatre company whose purpose was to reflect in its works the gay experience. The show had several different productions over the span of a couple years and fortunately was captured on vinyl, though a bit hard to find now. I'm playing four tracks from it, "Celebrate," "Somehow I'm Taller," "The Trucks," and the finale of the song "Lovers." And, a note, the song "The Trucks" is about going down to the part of New York where the trucks were parked at night, and meeting like-minded chaps for sex, so, it's explicit.
Lovers - Celebrate / Somehow I'm Taller / The Trucks / Lovers (1974)
And this one is from 1990 and was only released on cassette, and again, is almost impossible to find. It was produced by Theatre Rhinoceros in Los Angeles and was called "Dirty Dreams of a Clean-Cut Kid." I think this one is kind of special, and as it's so rare and speaks so clearly of a time and place in our history, I'm going to share with you an extended section of it. Yes, it's hard to take songs out of a show that's taking you on a journey, but I think you will grasp the desperation, and pride, of those facing AIDS and an uncertain future. Again, this was 1990, very much in the middle of the AIDS epidemic and the songs reflect that. Some are quite somber, like the one about waiting for your test results, and even the hopeful closing song is called "Those Who Remain." Here are selections from "Dirty Dreams of a Clean-Cut Kid."
Dreams of a Clean-Cut Kid - (1990)
And that was a special treat, several songs from "Dirty Dreams of a Clean-Cut Kid." This is JD Doyle and thank you for checking out my rambling show on gay musicals. I'm closing with some tracks from one of the best, and most gay ones, "When Pigs Fly." That was Howard Crabtree's 1997 camp creation, and like his previous hit, "Whoop-Dee-Do," it was a costume extravaganza." Or, as RuPaul might say, Extravaganza! And it won the Drama Desk Awards for Outstanding Musical Revue and Costume Design.
This show was loosely strung together with a plot featuring a man pissed off by a high school guidance counselor who doubted he had any talent; he showed her! And I'm ending with the song used to close Act I, called "A Patriotic Finale," which went on to a life of its own. It's more commonly called "Color Out of Colorado," and is often performed by GLBT choruses. I know of ten chorus CDs that include the song, and I just heard it sung in March at a performance of the Gay Men's Chorus of Houston. I bring you "When Pigs Fly."
Pigs Fly - Prologue / When Pigs Fly / A Patriotic Finale (1997)